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TEC appeal dismissed in SC: The Church of England Newspaper, April 4, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina appeals court has dismissed the appeal of the Episcopal Church and its allies in the Diocese of South Carolina, seeking review of a lower court order rejecting the national church’s demand that attorneys for the diocese turn over copies of their correspondence with the Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence.  A spokesman for the diocese stated they were “grateful” the court had dismissed the appeal. “Their strategy of using legal motions to delay court decisions caused eight months to be wasted when they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction. As in that matter, the courts sided with the Diocese of South Carolina,” Canon Jim Lewis said. The ruling renders moot a motion filed by the diocese last month for the state Supreme Court to take jurisdiction over the appeal and return the dispute to the trial docket, which is scheduled to adjudicate the case in July.

Texas Supreme Court rejects TEC appeal: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas Supreme Court has rejected the petition of the Episcopal Church in the Texas property cases, denying a rehearing of its dispute with the Diocese of Fort Worth and a parish in the Diocese of Northwest Texas that had seceded from its diocese.  The 21 March 2014 ruling sends the disputes back to the trial courts with instructions to adjudicate the case without reference to church canon law, looking only at civil property law. “We are greatly relieved by the finality of the Court’s ruling,” said the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth. “TEC’s rehearing strategy has delayed us from moving on with this case by more than six months and at the cost of several thousands of dollars to oppose it. My advice is that TEC cut its losses and get on with their life without the Diocese of Fort Worth. Their litigation strategy has failed.”

South Carolina accepts archepiscopal oversight from Global South: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Global South, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The 223rd annual convention of the Diocese of South Carolina has voted to accept an offer of temporary archiepiscopal oversight from the Global South Primates Steering Committee. On 15 March 2014 the delegates voted unanimously to accept the offer made in the February Cairo Communique of the GS Primates, while also aligning itself with the GAFCON movement. In his speech to the convention, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence said “this will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within the Communion: one wihc includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.” In 2012 the diocesan convention voted to quit the Episcopal Church in response to disputes over doctrine and disciple with the New York based national office, which led to moves to dismiss Bishop Lawrence from the ministry.

Misconduct charges filed against Presiding Bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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A Washington-based conservative group, the American Anglican Fellowship has filed charges against the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, alleging he $30 million legal campaign against church conservatives is an abuse of office and violates church canons. The organizations website stated that on 19 December 2013, it filed “information with the Intake Officer concerning possible violations of the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons by the Presiding Bishop … We acted only after prayer consideration, and exhausting all reasonable means of communication to the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council. Our letters went unanswered and letters from other organizations, including letters form five bishops and a petition signed by more than 5000 Christians remained unanswered. The Intake Officer will decide if the information, if true, constitutes a violation of the Canons. We await his decision.” Public comment from the national church on the merits of the charges is unlikely as the disciplinary process requires the parties to remain silent while a review is underway

Supreme Court declines cert in Falls Church appeal: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal from the Virginia Supreme Court over the case of The Falls Church v. the Episcopal Church of the USA, ending seven years of litigation over the ownership of $13 million of property and assets of what had been the Diocese of Virginia’s largest congregation. After relisting the case for its conference four times, the case failed to garner the support of five of the court’s nine justices to allow it to be adjudicated. The decision not to hear the case leaves the state of American Church property law unsettled with the state supreme courts divided over the interpretation of the US Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling in Jones v. Wolf, with some states granting priority to canon law while other states have granted priority to civil property law and have allowed congregations who own their property to quit the church and take their buildings with them.

Terry Fullam dead at 83: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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One of the founders of the Charismatic Renewal Movement in the United States, the Rev. Everett “Terry” Fullam has died at the age of 83, reports the Bishop of Central Florida. In a 15 March 2014 Tweet to his diocese, the Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer wrote “Just heard that Terry Fullam passed away. A generation ago he was a hero.” Trained as a musician, Terry Fullam was educated at Gordon College and Harvard University and was ordained in 1967 by the Bishop of Rhode Island after studying privately for holy orders.  In 1972 he was appointed Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Conn. During his tenure at St Paul’s, (1972-1989) the parish saw significant revival and became one of the fastest growing churches in America.  A 1980 book about his ministry at St. Paul written by Bob Slosser, entitled Miracle in Darien brought his ministry to worldwide attention, and remains one of the most influential books on church renewal in the Protestant world. Upon retirement, Terry Fullam moved to Ormond Beach, Fla., and remained an active teacher and preacher. A 1998 stroke forced him to discontinue his ministry.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 95: March 21, 2014 March 22, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX
00:00 The Pope a year in review
10:00 Global South adopts Diocese of South Carolina
18:10 ABC Canterbury year in review with Peter Ould
29:11 Why would anybody bring charges against Saint Schori?
38:14 R.I.P Terry Fullam
45:57 Closing and Bloopers

Supreme Court intervention requested in the South Carolina case: The Church of England Newspaper, March 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has asked the state’s Supreme Court to take jurisdiction over its dispute with the Episcopal Church and its allies, arguing the national church has been pursuing a legal strategy designed solely to “interfere with the purpose of a speedy and inexpensive resolution.”

Lawyers for the diocese on 6 Feb 2014 filed the motion after the national church appealed a ruling by the trial court that rejected its request the diocese turn over all copies of correspondence between Bishop Mark Lawrence and his attorneys. American law forbids discovery of such correspondence as being protected by attorney-client privilege. The national church had argued that as they were the true diocese and thus the client, they could waive the privilege on Bishop Lawrence’s behalf.

Judge Diane Goodstein dismissed the request, prompting the appeal from the national church. Under South Carolina law the judge’s interlocutory order is not normally subject to appeal, however while the appeals court rules on the motion the proceedings in the trial court halt.

In its 24 Jan 2014 appeal of Judge Goodstein’s ruling the national church said it should have access to the correspondence between the bishop and the diocese’s attorneys. It argued “in this dispute where both sides claim to be the one and only continuing Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina after the split in late 2012, the Respondents’ exclusive possession and access to the prior legal positions of the then-unified Diocese gives the Respondents an unfair informational advantage. The fact that the same lawyer is now representing the Respondents in this litigation only compounds that unfairness.”

A diocesan spokesman said the Episcopal Church and its local allies, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina were “misusing the judicial system to delay resolution of this case.”

“Their strategy of appealing an interlocutory order is evidence of that intent. This is the same strategy that caused eight months to be wasted at the start of this case in federal court where they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction.”

The national church and its supporters also filed an appeal with the Federal Court on 5 Feb asking for a review of its January decision not to take jurisdiction over the dispute.

“We are disappointed in TEC’s appeal, but it does not surprise us,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese. “The Episcopal Church has a long history of dragging out legal battles in hopes of draining the resources of parishes and dioceses it seeks to punish for leaving the denomination,” he said.

Since 2000 the national church has incurred approximately $34 million in prosecuting 83 lawsuits and defending itself in seven church property lawsuits.

Episcopal Church to put more money into the indaba project: The Church of England Newspaper, February 21, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA has asked the church’s executive council to give an extra $312,000 to the Anglican Consultative Council to support the work of the continuing indaba process.

At its meeting last week, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori proposed increasing the three year grant approved by the 2012 General Convention from $700,000 to $1,012,000. Unless the grant were increased, the presiding bishop noted, the US church would only contribute $25,000 to the ACC in 2015, as it had budgeted giving $675,000 to the London-based organization for 2013 and 2014.

Organized by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, indaba is a project of facilitated conversations between the US and Canadian churches and the churches in the developing world. Organized and staffed by the Anglican Consultative Council in London, the project has come under fierce criticism from conservatives and has been denounced by the Gafcon movement for its perceived bias in favor of the progressive agenda.

While the proposal is likely to be approved by the October meeting of the executive council which will set the budget for 2015, the request highlights a growing split between the General Convention and the executive council over the limits of authority within the church.

The amount budgeted for the ACC was the subject of strong debate at the 2012 General Convention with many deputies to the meeting questioning the value for money provided by the ACC. Unilaterally raising the ACC budget by the executive council follows its rejection of the General Convention’s vote to sell the New York office building that houses the presiding bishop and her staff, and relocate to a cheaper and more centrally located facility.

 

Concerns over archbishop’s accolades for Katharine Jefferts Schori: The Church of England Newspaper, February 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has applauded the news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford.

However, the fulsome praise offered by the archbishop has pained conservatives, who see his commendation of her “intellect and compassion” to be a slap in the face to traditionalists.

On 6 Feb 2014 the University announced that Bishop Jefferts Schori would be one of six people awarded an honorary degree at Encaenia, the University’s annual honorary degree ceremony, on 25 June 2014.

In a statement from Lambeth Palace released later that day, Archbishop Welby said he was “delighted” by the news.

He went on to say: “This award, richly deserved, reaffirms Bishop Katharine’s remarkable gifts of intellect and compassion, which she has dedicated to the service of Christ. Prior to becoming ordained, Bishop Katharine pursued a career in oceanography, and her enduring deep commitment to the environment has evolved into a profound dedication to stewardship of our planet and humankind, especially in relieving poverty and extending the love and hospitality of Christ to those on the edges of society. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said of Bishop Katharine, “In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin.” It must be noted, too, that Bishop Katharine’s achievements serve – and will continue to serve – as a powerful model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church.”

Commentators questioned the wisdom of the archbishop’s penning such a statement, fearing it would alienate the overseas church and conservatives in the UK and US. However, in a post on Facebook defending Archbishop Welby’s actions, Bishop Pete Broadbent dismissed concerns that the statement reflected a shift in favor of the revisionist wing of the church by the archbishop.

“Lots of us here think that [Katharine Jefferts Schori] is thoroughly bad news for the gospel, but you’re not going to get the ABC to slag her off in a press release. It just ain’t that simple. You can’t really stick out a release saying “Congrats, but…” Most congratulatory things smarm it up a bit. You might think ABC shouldn’t have said congrats at all (knowing that Oxford have been put up to this), but once you go down the line of doing official congrats, you have to be nice. Cos that’s how Brits do it,” he explained.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 94, March 7, 2014 March 8, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of Uganda, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Story Index
00:00 Can Jesus bake cake?
06:54 Imagine there is no Episcopal Church
14:14 Ashes to choke on
19:19 How to clarify an secular interview
21:50 closing and bloopers

Anglican Unscripted Episode 93, February 21, 2014 February 22, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Story Index
00:00 A House in Wisconsin
16:08 Interview with Bishop Salmon
24:28 Where’s Welby?
30:27 Agnostics Have Theology
44:50 The New Iron Lady
49:10 Facebook Diplomacy
53:22 Closing and Bloopers

Anglican Unscripted Episode 91, February 8, 2014 February 8, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Feb 8, 2014
Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Story Index
00:00 The New Oxford Movement
15:44 Elephant Politics
21:42 AS Haley on South Carolina
31:00 The perfect answer for Immigration
39:35 Closing and Bloopers

Final arguments presented in San Joaquin case: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 February 3, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, The Episcopal Church.
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The legality of the secession of a California diocese from the from the Episcopal Church is in the hands of California Judge Donald Black following  the closing arguments presented to the Fresno Superior Court last week.

On 13 Jan 2014 the videotaped testimony of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield who presided over the 2007 vote by the diocesan synod to quit the Episcopal Church was presented to the court.  Bishop Schofield, who died in October 2013, testified in the 2011 recording to his actions surrounding the diocesan vote to amend its amend its constitution and canons to replace language acceding to the Episcopal Church’s constitution with language that affiliated the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

In 2008 the national church and loyalists members of the diocese brought suit against Bishop Schofield and various parishes, seeking to acquire control of all church properties. The breakaway diocese has argued that the diocese’s actions conformed to secular and ecclesiastical law.  Attorneys for the national church have argued that while the church’s constitution does not forbid the secession of dioceses, a ban on quitting is implied in the church’s governing documents.

Judge Black ordered the parties to file their final briefs on 24 Feb 2014, and their reply briefs on 17 March 2014. A decision is expected from the court by late summer.

Plea to hold bishop liable for secession from the Episcopal Church dismissed: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina court has dismissed a motion brought by the national Episcopal Church to add in his personal capacity, Bishop Mark Lawrence, and three diocesan officials to the lawsuit over the Diocese of South Carolina’s properties.

On 30 December 2013, Judge Diane Goodstein dismissed the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s argument that Bishop Lawrence and the other church leaders should be made personally responsible for the secession of the diocese from the national Church. The court found there was no reason to single out specific members of the clergy for a vote taken by the diocese as a whole.

The court also dismissed a request by the national Church for an order barring loyalists in the diocese from saying they were the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The matter has been set down for trial in July.

Diocesan spokesman Canon Jim Lewis said: “We are grateful that Judge Goodstein dismissed this most recent effort to harass our people with time-consuming, expensive litigation,” adding the “the judge’s decision ends the legal fishing expedition and forces all to focus on the only issue that matters: whether our religious freedom is protected.”

Where’s the religion at Washington’s National Cathedral?: Get Religion, January 16, 2014 January 16, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism, The Episcopal Church, Washington.
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The financial difficulties facing the Washington National Cathedral were the subject of a local news item in the Washington Post this week.

The basic story line is valid: “cathedral short of cash seeks creative ways to generate income.” But as  GetReligion editor tmatt observed in an an impromptu story conference, this piece had journalistic “holes you can drive a ’60s VW Microbus through… .”

The few errors in Anglican polity found in the story would likely distress only the perpetually aggrieved, but the real difficulty is that the Post declined to ask or explore the question: “why?”

It assumes the worldview of the liberal wing of mainline churches, making this the measure of all things religious. By not asking “why” this story could just as well be written about the troubles facing the local symphony orchestra or art museum.

I was hesitant in taking this story, however, as my theological sympathies are not with the cathedral’s leadership. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Diocese of Washington’s cathedral, last year told the Post he was a “non-theistic Christian.” The Aug 1, 2013 story in the Style section penned by Sally Quinn quoted him as saying:

Jesus doesn’t use the word God very much,” he says. “He talks about his Father.”

Hall explains: “Where I am now, how do I understand Jesus as a son of God that’s not magical? I’m trying to figure out Jesus as a son of God and a fully human being, if he has both fully human and a fully divine set of chromosomes. .?.?. He’s not some kind of superman coming down. God is present in all human beings. Jesus was an extraordinary human being. Jesus didn’t try to convert. He just had people at his table.”

It is the glory, or the curse, of Anglicanism that the ranks of its clergy contain men and women who think this way — and others who see this as nonsense.

The divide is not merely local or new — in 2009 I interviewed the Argentine leader of the Anglican churches in southern South America and he told me that meaningful debate between left and right was not possible. He and his conservative colleagues from Africa, India and Asia believed the leader of the American Episcopal church was “not a Christian” as they understood the term.

The disdain does not go one way. Liberal American and English Anglicans have described the theological and intellectual worldview of their third world confreres as being one step above witchcraft.

The split between left and right, liberals and conservatives, progressives and traditionalists — none of these terms adequately describes the combatants — did not arise in 2003 with the election of a “gay” bishop in the Episcopal Church. While there have always been factions within the Anglican world for centuries — high/low, Evangelical/Anglo-Catholic — the latest Anglican wars began in the 30s and hit their stride in the 60s.

Fights over women clergy, premarital sex, abortion, euthanasia, contraception/family planning, divorce and remarriage, pacifism, the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, Vietnam and the civil rights movement and its various permutations of race, gender, class, ethnicity and sexual orientation have been debated ever since.

The temptation I faced was to cloak my criticisms of the underlying issues in the story with the cover of discussing proper journalism and write about bad religion rather than bad journalism. Hence, my reluctance to jump on this story.

What then is the GetReligion angle? What holes are there in this story through which I may drive my VW microbus? The lede states:

When Congress authorized the creation of Washington National Cathedral in 1893, it envisioned a national spiritual home. Decades later, it became a setting for presidential funerals, sermons by the likes of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and worship services for epic national tragedies such as Newtown and Sept. 11.

But would it have thought of tai chi and yoga mats?

The article describes a program of events and activities designed to bring people into the cathedral. The story then moves to context:

As mellow as it all sounds, the week-long public program — “Seeing Deeper” — is part of a highly orchestrated drive by the nation’s second-largest cathedral to remake itself and survive in an era when religious institutions are struggling. And what’s more institutional than a huge cathedral?

Washington National Cathedral, one of the Episcopal Church’s three major U.S. cathedrals, was already forced to halve its $27 million budget in the mid-2000s because of falling revenue before an earthquake in 2011 caused damage tallying an additional $26 million. Although it is now in the black, it must raise its roughly $13 million annual operating budget as well as the remaining $19 million for earthquake repairs.

And then moves to a discussion of the dean’s plans to raise income and attendance and to be a voice for progressive values in Washington.

What is missing from this story, though, is a nod to the reasons for the cash shortfall — apart from the occasional earthquake and economic downturn.

The article makes this assertion:

Experts say cathedrals across Europe and the United States have had to remake themselves as religious affiliation has become much looser and financial models built on membership have broken down.

But we do not hear from the experts. Is this true for all cathedrals, or just Episcopal ones? How is the Catholic cathedral in Washington doing? How are other Episcopal cathedrals handling the new faith environment Dean Hall describes in the piece? These questions should have been raised, or at least acknowledged.

Where are the facts and figures about the Washington National Cathedral’s attendance and income? They are easily found on the national Episcopal Church’s website. It reports “pledge and plate income”, the amount of money the cathedral (whose formal name is the Cathedral of SS Peter & Paul) collected from its parishioners has grown from $400,000 p.a. in 2002 to $2 million in $2012.

At the same time Sunday attendance grew over the last ten years. The figures for Dean Hall’s first year in office have not been published, but should not the story have spoken to these issues.

And, have the Anglican wars played a part in the cathedral’s financial problems? While the amount of money generated by those worshiping on site has grown, giving to support the cathedral from the wider Episcopal world has fallen off. Why?  The article states fundraising was easier for the cathedral when it sought to finish construction — an 82 year building campaign.

Could the cathedral’s whole-hearted adoption of the progressive religious and political agenda have anything to do with the little old ladies in Alabama cutting back on their gifts? The article does not ask this question.

As written, the article could have described the problems facing any graying urban institution. Swap out the names and you could recycle this as a story about an art museum, library, orchestra, ballet or other worthy cultural institution. Perhaps the real story here is that the Washington National Cathedral is not seen as a religious institution by the Post but as a temple of ethical culture?

First printed at Get Religion.

TEC’s first gay bishop dies: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2013 January 16, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, The Episcopal Church, Utah.
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The Episcopal Church’s first “out” gay bishop has died.  The Rt. Rev. E. Otis Charles, retired Bishop of Utah and former Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., died on 26 December 2013 at a hospice in San Francisco. He was 87.

Ordained in 1951, Bishop Charles was elected Bishop of Utah in 1971 and held the post until his retirement in 1986. He served as Bishop of Navajoland for two years before accepting the post of Dean and President of EDS, retiring a second time in 1993.

A father of five, Bishop Charles told his wife he was gay in 1976. Upon his retirement from EDS he informed the House of Bishops of his sexual orientation and announced he and his wife Elvira were divorcing. In 1995 Bishop Charles wrote Breaking the Silence: Out in the Work Place, stating his support for changing church teaching on the morality of homosexual relations. In 2008 Bishop Charles took part in a civil same-sex marriage to his partner Felipe Sanchez-Paris, who predeceased him.

He remained an active member of the House of Bishops in retirement and took up residence in San Francisco, where he served as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of California.

Suit seeks to hold Bishop Lawrence personally liable for South Carolina’s secession: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, has filed a motion in state court seeking to add Bishop Mark Lawrence and three other diocesan officials as parties in the lawsuit over the control of church properties. The new pleading seeks to hold the breakaway leaders personally liable for the secession of South Carolina from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

On 25 November 2013 loyalists filed a motion alleging 18 causes of action against the four, the bishop, his canon to the ordinary, the current and former president of the standing committee , “including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy.”

Supporters of the diocese have dismissed the motion as a last minute ploy to salvage the national church’s case against the breakaway diocese.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley, who has represented breakaway dioceses of Quincy and San Joaqui in their litigation with the national church, stated the pleadings were ridiculous.

“It should be obvious to almost anyone that priests who break their ordination vows, or who violate the Constitution and Canons of the Church or of one of its Dioceses, cannot be sued in the civil courts for those actions,” he said, “that is the entire purpose of Title IV (“Ecclesiastical Discipline”) of the Canons.”

“I fail to see, therefore, how the rump group could have authorized the motion to add additional parties to state any claim for breach of the Constitution and Canons — or indeed, for breach of any fiduciary duties owed to the Church whatsoever,” he said citing a recent decision by the California Fifth District Appellate Court that “such questions are ‘quintessentially ecclesiastical’ — they are issues ‘the First Amendment forbids us from adjudicating’.”

“I fail to see how this ‘Hail Mary’ pass has any chance of success in court,” he said.

However, the national church supporters said the motion was filed “because actions [Lawrence and the others] they took to ‘withdraw’ the diocese from [the Episcopal Church] were outside the scope of their legal authority and violated state law,” a press statement said.

Their actions amounted to a “conspiracy” to spirit away “the assets of the diocese and ‘deprive Episcopalians loyal to the Episcopal Church of their property rights’ by manipulating the corporate entity of the diocese,” the pleading alleged.

Arson kills Maryland rector: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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A bizarre church fire has left two dead including the rector of St Paul’s-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City, Maryland in an incident police describe as arson.

On 26 Nov 2013 a 56-year old man, subsequently identified as John Sterner, entered the church offices located in the ground floor of the parish rectory. Witnesses told police that Sterner’s clothing was on fire and he was screaming for help.

Sterner grabbed a church volunteer and set her clothing on fire. The fire spread then spread to the building. The volunteer was able to escape the building, but firefighters found parish rector the Rev. David Dingwell, apparently unconscious from smoke inhalation, inside the building. Sterner died at the scene of the fire and the two other victims were taken to hospital.

However, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, the Rt. Rev. James Shand, reported Mr. Dingwell died later that day from his injuries.

Police report Stern was unknown to the members of the church and are investigating how he came to be covered in an accelerant fluid. Suicide is suspected as the motive for the crime.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 87, December 5, 2013 December 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index
00:00 Anglicans have lost the Mother Church
14:38 Piling onto Pilling Report with Peter Ould
33:14 IRS and Clergy Housing Allowances with AS Haley
41:51 The National Museum in Washington DC
48:37 Closing and Bloopers

CBS discovers the Catholic priest shortage: Get Religion, November 26, 2013 November 26, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Get Religion, The Episcopal Church.
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I am reaching back a bit into my guilt file — stories I want to cover but for one reason or another have not touched. But the recent flurry of news stories about women priests and the Catholic clergy shortage led me to pull this item out of my bag.

The CBS Evening News reported earlier this year that there is a shortage of Roman Catholic priests in the United States. This may be news to some, I suppose, but the story has been getting a bit long in the tooth. However, the news “hook” CBS used in its segment was that the church was using Anglicans to plug the gap — hence the title: “Catholic Church turns to Anglicans to fill U.S. priest shortage.”

Yes, there is a shortage of Catholic priests in the United States.

No, the shortfall is not being met by using Anglicans.

Catholic dioceses in the U.S. and Europe are importing priests from India, Africa and Asia to meet pressing pastoral needs — this story has been told hundreds of times over the past few years in the secular press. A recent example of such stories is this well written piece in Der Spiegel reporting on an Indian priest’s acculturation to Germany.

The article begins with a recitation of the problem, profiling a Milwaukee priest who has the pastoral charge of seven congregations.

Sunday is anything but a day of rest for Father Tim Kitzke. On the Sunday we followed him, the priest said Mass at three different Milwaukee churches, held a luncheon for dozens of parishioners and baptized a baby. Kitzke and one other priest are in charge of seven churches in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. There used to be a time when 14 priests covered the seven churches. “It’s not only — maybe not the old model … but it’s the old reality,” he says.

The number of Roman Catholic priests in the United States has steadily dropped from nearly 59,000 in 1975 to just under 39,000 last year. But the number of Catholics in the United States has increased by 17 million. Asked if he worries, Kitzke says, “Definitely, yes, we obviously need more priests — that goes without saying, we need more vocations.”

The segment offers facts and figures on the priest shortage and then transitions to a former Episcopal priest who joined the Catholic Church and has since been ordained a Catholic priest.

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Episode 86: Anglican Unscripted, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Show Index
00:00 GAFCON and the ABC
09:56 Allan Haley and TEC Legal Fantasy
22:00 Raceophobic Church
28:56 GAFCON Down Under
42:52 Marriage
4719: Extinct COE
59:00 Closing and Bloopers

Episode 85: Anglican Unscripted, November 14, 2013 November 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Disaster Relief, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Nov 14, 2013

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Helping the Philippines: 00:00
GAFCON Update 04:16
Fleeing the Churches 16:00
Legal Update 20:06
GAFCON in England 30:07
Closing and Bloopers 47:15

Episcopal Church sees 24% decline in 10 years: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The number of Episcopalians at worship on Sundays in the United States has declined by 24 per cent over the last ten years, statistics released last week by the church’s national office in New York reveal.

The church’s Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in 2012 for domestic and overseas dioceses was 679,923 – a decline of 2.6 per cent from 2011.

In 2002 the ASA for the domestic dioceses of the Episcopal Church was 846,640. In 2012 the domestic ASA was 640,142; a decline of 206,498 or 24 per cent over ten years. The secession of the Diocese of South Carolina last year is not reflected in these figures.

Baptized membership declined by 29,679 in 2012 to 2,066,710, the Episcopal Church reported on 31 October 2013, with growth in baptized membership reported in only 33 domestic dioceses. Twelve dioceses saw growth in their ASA in 2012. The Diocese of Nevada saw the greatest percentage and numeric growth in attendance of any diocese, 6.9 per cent or 165 people, while the Diocese of Ohio had the steepest decline: 1,150 or 14.4 per cent.

Are Christians crazy, or just stupid?: Get Religion, October 18, 2013 October 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Seventh-day Adventist, The Episcopal Church.
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There is little new under the sun when it comes to anti-theistic arguments. Whether it be high minded philosophical critique or rabble rousing anti-clericalism, what was old is now new.

Richard Ostling observed in his Get Religion post “Is the ‘New Atheism’ any different from old atheism?” the content of the criticism remains the same, but the tone has changed. The new atheism has taken a:

[A] tactical lurch toward emotion-laden partisanship and take-no-prisoners rhetoric that might make a Fundamentalist blush.

In this week’s Crossroads, a Get Religion podcast, Issues, Etc., host Todd Wilken and I discussed two posts that touched on anti-theism — but approached the subject from different perspectives: French media disdain for religious believers and a “heretical” Episcopal bishop.

While there have been other non-theistic Episcopal bishops, Jack  Spong of Newark was the media  darling of the ’90s. A fixture on talk shows and op-ed pages in his day, Bishop Spong was the subject of a profile written by the Religion News Service that was released in advance of his next book.

Pressed by Todd whether my dislike of the story was motivated more by my theological disagreements with Bishop Spong than journalistic concerns, I responded that I had no quarrel with Bishop Spong being Bishop Spong. What stoked my ire was the the lack of balance, hard questions of context in the RNS piece. It was more of a People magazine puff piece than journalism.

The second half of the story was a review of my criticism of two different accounts of the trial of four French West Indian immigrants in Paris, accused with kidnapping and torturing a fellow immigrant. They have denied the charge, and in their defense have claimed they were exorcising demons from their victim. The journalistic issue I saw was the discrepancy between AFP’s English and French language stories — released at the same time. The English language version noted the defendants said they were motivated to act by the tenets of their Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. But it included the information the four had been expelled from the church some time ago — and that their actions were contrary to that church’s doctrine and discipline.

The French version omitted this disclaimer. Todd asked me why the two versions differed. I said it could have been two different teams at work in the AFP office (French and English language) or it could be an example of writing to the audience’s interests. In the culture of the Anglosphere, religious beliefs and religions have always had a place in the public square. This is not the case in France, where faith is regarded by the elites as a private matter that should not intrude into public life. The French-language AFP article represented a secular worldview that saw no utility in reporting on the religion details. The attitude of the article was that these benighted immigrants were motivated by their weird (Seventh-day Adventist) faith and these odd “Evangelical Christians” need no further discussion.

The attitude is one I have encountered more and more in recent years — one cited by Richard Ostling in his Get Religion piece — that traditional Christian believers are crazy or stupid. The attitude is not new — see Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (1799), but the tone of disbelief is no longer cultured, more aggressive, and oblivious to the ideas of others. This is the attitude one encounters in the mainstream media, such as AFP. And it runs through Jack Spong’s books. (And this aspect of his work was studiously avoided by RNS in its puff piece.)

Perhaps Todd was correct in surmising that my animus towards the RNS piece was personal. I have been an object of pity from some of my clerical brethren for my beliefs. One bishop asked me how I could believe in such things as the Virgin Birth, bodily resurrection, even though I was well educated.  I was a traitor to my class — “one of us” who had gone over to the other side. I was not stupid, therefore there must be something wrong with me — or I was playing a deep game.

A recent exchange between New York Magazine and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia aptly illustrates the contempt religious believers receive at the hands of the media.

Scalia: I even believe in the Devil.

NYM: You do?

Scalia: Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

NYM: Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …

Scalia: If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

NYM: Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?

Scalia: You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

NYM: Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?

Scalia: You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

NYM: I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.

Scalia: I was offended by that. I really was.

Are Christians crazy or stupid? Or are people of faith merely viewed with contempt?

First published in Get Religion.

Interview: Issues Etc., October 17, 2013 October 17, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Issues Etc, Newark, Seventh-day Adventist.
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Here is an to an interview I gave to the Issues, Etc. show of Lutheran Public Radio broadcast on 17 October 2013.

5. Media Coverage of Bishop John Shelby Spong – George Conger, 10/16/13

George Conger of GetReligion.org

Conservative TEC leader concedes defeat in America’s sex wars: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 5. October 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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One of the leaders of the conservative remnant within the Episcopal Church has called upon traditionalists to acknowledge their defeat in the church’s wars over sexuality and seek a negotiated peace.

In a powerful address given last month to a conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Toronto Pan-Anglican conference, the Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto and a scholar with the Anglican Communion Institute said “the question for conservatives [now] is about encouragement. Will we be allowed to walk the well-worn paths of the faith,” he asked “or must we follow the trailblazers”, the advocates of change.

The culture and the majority faction within the Episcopal Church held a different moral worldview. It was “no longer a matter of saying the new ways are wrong. That point has passed. “

“We are in a new time. It is now here. We can see a before or after” in the Episcopal Church since the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 and in the rise to power of Katharine Jefferts Schori in 2006. “Traditional Anglicans have lost a battle.”

There is now “no single understanding” of the faith. New Prayer Books will emerge that will solemnize gay marriage. Prof. Seitz noted the question for conservatives is not whether they can stop this but if the majority will allow “two rites [to] exist side by side.”

Encouragement for the conservative remnant “would be allowing the status quo ante. Not a new church allowing traditional Anglicans” a home, but the existing churches giving conservatives “the moral space and right to exist.”

“Will dioceses and parishes be permitted to do what has been done before,” he asked. Will we be given the “moral space to conserve our traditions? Can bishops let go of parishes? Can dioceses choose to say no? Can we [as Episcopalians] remain a valued and trustworthy expression of the church catholic?”

To do this “it may be necessary to change the office of Presiding Bishop, reform the General Convention, rewrite the Book of Common Prayer” or enact other “constitutional reforms”, he said.

But “if reforms are not enacted it would end the conservative presence” in the Episcopal Church, he said.

Memories of Jack Spong: Get Religion, October 11, 2013 October 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Newark, The Episcopal Church.
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Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory — this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savors, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?

Remembrance of Things Past. Volume 1: Swann’s Way: Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, translated by  C.K. Scott Moncrieff. p. 48.

Jack Spong is my petite madeleine.

The former Episcopal Bishop of Newark does for me what a cookie did for Marcel — open the door to bittersweet memories. The taste of the tea-soaked biscuit reminded Marcel of Charles Swann’s destruction that had been precipitated by his unfaithful wife Odette. An article in today’s Washington Post‘s On Faith section from the Religion News Service reminded me (as a priest in this church) of the destruction of the Episcopal Church precipitated by its unfaithful leaders over the past 40 years.

The article entitled “An aging maverick, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has no regrets” is part Edith Piaf — part Soviet Life hagiography. As I read through article I heard Jack Spong proclaim “Non, Rien de rien / Non, Je ne regrette rien” — while RNS went into full bore People magazine puff piece mode. All that was missing was the photo of the smiling peasants with their balalaikas extolling the virtues of the dear leader. One cannot blame Jack Spong for his part, but I do think RNS might be a little embarrassed.

The article opens on a friendly note:

MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. — At 82, retired and enjoying life, Bishop John Shelby Spong doesn’t have to be the liberal enfant terrible whose pronouncements for gay rights and against traditional dogmas once scandalized Christendom.

Indeed, many of the views that once turned the former Episcopal bishop of Newark into a lightning rod are now regarded as so matter-of-fact that they barely occasion much notice: ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex marriages, for example, or having a female presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman elected to lead a national church in the Anglican Communion.

And it gets better from here. The good bishop enumerates his triumphs with but slight modesty … but he discounts any direct responsibility.

Yet while he finds the victory deeply satisfying, he says he doesn’t take personal pride in this tectonic shift.“I was simply interpreting a rising consciousness,” he said. “Whether it was race or women or homosexual people, the issue was always the same: fighting against anything that dehumanizes a child of God on the basis of an external characteristic.”Now, he said, “I feel mellow,” his soft drawl burnishing the tone of reflection. “And I don’t think I’ve changed, particularly. I’m just not controversial in my church anymore.”

But RNS tells us:

[T]hose who love Spong — and the many who love to hate him — need not worry: He is hardly going gently into that good night. He seems as vital and youthful as ever, tall and lanky with a shock of reddish hair that still falls insistently across his forehead. He does four miles every morning on the treadmill, and he and his wife travel about 60 percent of the year, mainly at the invitation of audiences who want to hear more from Spong.And he has a new book out — his 24th. This latest one is a take on the Gospel of John called “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.” As the subtitle suggests, Spong reads the Gospel through a Jewish lens, as he has done in many of his works.

It continues in this vein of hero worship. Jack Spong is a mystic — but a rationalist one.

In a sense, following the path of a mystic — like the author of the Gospel of John — only became possible as Spong, the rational-minded Bible scholar, aged. And that process in turn seems to have highlighted Spong’s roots as a pastor and teacher — a spiritual writer as much as a controversialist.

I do not begrudge the old lion his roar and Spong makes fewer mistakes than he is wont to do — he states with confidence that the Gospel writers were all Jews, while most New Testament scholars would argue Luke was Greek, see Lea & Black The New Testament: Its Background and Message, citing Colossians 4:10-11.

But how does RNS expect any but the most gormless of its readers to take this article seriously as journalism? No hard questions are asked of the bishop. Nothing about his tenure as bishop when his diocese was in free fall — collapsing faster than the city of Detroit.  Shortly after Spong retired Robert Stowe England penned a post-mortem of the bishop’s tenure, writing:

Between 1978 and 1999, the number of baptized persons in the diocese fell from 64,323 to 36,340, a loss of 27,983 members in 21 years. That’s a disastrous 43.5% decline. The Episcopal Church, by contrast, saw a decline in the number of baptized persons from 3,057,162 in 1978 to 2,339,133 in 1997, a loss of 718, 499, or a substantial 23.4%, according to the 1998 Church Annual.

The Diocese of Newark under Spong, thus, has declined at a rate 20.1 percentage points higher than the rate for the entire Episcopal Church. This rate of decline is 86% faster than the Episcopal Church, whose losses are considerable in and of themselves.

Nor is there an appreciation of Spong’s standing as a theologian — apart from that offered by the good bishop. In 1998, before he became Archbishop of Wales then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams was one of the leading scholars of the Anglican left — the author of the then standard apologetic for changing the church’s teaching to support same-sex relationships. Williams was not impressed with the Spong’s scholarly acumen.

Dr. Williams’ relationship with Bishop Spong, the author of a slew of books questioning the basic tenet of Christianity, has been difficult. In 1998 Dr. Williams characterized Bishop Spong’s controversial 12 theses as immature. Their implication he wrote “is that the sort of questions that might be asked by a bright 20th century sixth-former would have been unintelligible or devastating for Augustine, Rahner or Teresa of Avila.

Nor do we hear of Bishop Spong’s humiliation at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, when the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold apologized on behalf of the church to the bishops of Africa for “racist” comments made by the Bishop of Newark in an interview with the Church of England Newspaper. Bishop Spong — who in the run up to the conference was a media darling — left the conference early with his tail between his legs.

I write this not to attack the man, but to point out the perils of hagiography for journalists. If you are going to paint the subject of your interview as being a giant among giants — a successful bishop, a provocative scholar and a champion of minorities — you should be sure of your ground.

Here is the key journalistic point: The areas that RNS choose to highlight with the selection of its quotes were also the areas of Spong’s greatest failure. These omissions rob the article of credibility. There are too many missing essential facts.

The bishop and Proust’s petite madeleine are both light and insubstantial things — though the petite madeleine is the size of large nut and the bishop is rather bigger. Yet in an odd sort of way they share themes of the destructive force of obsessions and the allure and fatal consequences of transgressive sexuality.

Jack Spong is a great man, but also a tragic one — while the RNS piece is simply silly.

First printed in Get Religion.

Seek peace with honor in the TEC wars: Anglican Ink, October 6, 2013 October 6, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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Toronto: Conservatives should seek terms for a negotiated peace to the Anglican wars, the Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, Old Testament Scholar and Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto and a leader of the Anglican Communion Institute told a conference marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Toronto Pan-Anglican Congress.

The battle had been lost leaving conservatives as “strangers in their own church,” he said, and “the question for conservatives [now] is about encouragement. Will we be allowed to walk the well-worn paths of the faith,” he asked “or must we follow the trailblazers?”

While engaged in the preparation of a commentary on the Book of Jeremiah while on a study leave at the University of Tubingen, Prof. Seitz stated it was his custom to tread the paths in the forests surrounding the town.  Warming upon this theme, he told the conference participants gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto that traditionalists are being told the “paths of our fathers are wrong paths” and our understanding of God’s plan for salvation has reached its “sell-by date.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Overseas bishop to lead loyalist faction in San Joaquin: Anglican Ink, September 29, 2013 September 30, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Ink, San Joaquin.
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The Bishop of Waiapu has been tapped to be the next Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia’s press office has announced.

The Rt. Rev. David Rice is expected to take up his post following confirmation by the diocesan synod. An American expatriate, Bishop Rice was born in North Carolina and trained for the ministry at Duke University Divinity School. He was ordained deacon in 1989 and elder in 1991 in the United Methodist Church in Western North Carolina and served congregations in  the state from 1989 to 1997. From 1991-93 Bishop Rice led a congregation in New Zealand and returned to the country in 1997 to be ordained a deacon and priest in the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.

After entering the Anglican Church the bishop served as a parish priest and was appointed Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin in 2002.  In 2008 Bishop Rice was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu on New Zealand’s North Island.  He also was one of four candidates who stood for election as Bishop of Southwest Virginia in March 2013.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 82: September 28, 2013 September 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Pakistan, GAFCON, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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West Virginia bishop authorizes gay blessings: Anglican Ink, September 21, 2013 September 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer has authorized clergy in the Diocese of West Virginia to conduct rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

In an address to the diocesan convention held on 21 September 2013 at the Days Conference Center in Flatwoods, WV, Bishop Kluysmeyer stated that blessings may commence in Advent (Dec 1). Couples seeking a blessing must be baptized members of their church and have been attending for at least six months, he told the convention.

There will be no “right” or requirement that a church must provide the blessings, the bishop said. Before a church begins to solemnize gay unions both the rector or priest in charge and the vestry must agree to allow gay blessings to take place.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Episcopal Church confident it will win Fort Worth fight: Anglican Ink, September 12, 2013 September 13, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford High

The Episcopal Church will prevail in its court battle with Bishop Jack L. Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth, the Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., said this week, arguing the doctrine of neutral principles of law favors their cause.

On 9 Sept 2013 Bishop High and members of the diocesan standing committee along with the national church appointed trustees of the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and officers for the Fund for the Endowment of the Episcopate met with their lawyers to review the Texas Supreme Court’s 30 August 2013 decision in No. 11-0265Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.

In the Fort Worth case the Court by a vote of 5 to 4 overturned a Tarrant County trial court decision that awarded the property of the Diocese of Fort Worth to the national Episcopal Church and its local allies.  The Supreme Court held the trial court erred in deferring to the denominational polity of the national church. The ruling nullified the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon in Texas, holding the national church’s property rules had no legal effect in the state.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

American centrist mission to Canterbury: The Church of England Newspaper, September 13, 2013 p 6. September 12, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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Six bishops represent the Communion Partners Group – a conservative centrist coalition of clergy in the Episcopal Church – have met with the Archbishop of Canterbury to brief him on the state of the American church.

On 26 August 2013 the bishops released a statement, under the signature of the Rt. Rev. Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota, saying they had “prayed together” with Archbishop Justin Welby at the Old Palace in Canterbury and had “discussed a range of issues concerning the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church.”

Bishop Smith’s letter did not give details of the meeting but explained “our vocation as Communion Partners” was “to navigate” the “dangerous extremes” dividing the Communion – a reference to Archbishop Welby’s Monterrey sermon of 13 August 2013.

In his Mexico sermon Archbishop Welby likened the Anglican Communion to a “drunk man walking near the edge of a cliff, we trip and totter and slip and wander, ever nearer to the edge of the precipice.”

Anglicans were treading a “narrow path” between “an absence of any core beliefs, a chasm where we lose touch with God, and thus we rely only on ourselves and our own message. On the other side there is a vast fall into a ravine of intolerance and cruel exclusion. It is for those who claim all truth, and exclude any who question.”

Archbishop Welby’s words were heard in the United States by some commentators to describe Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her liberal camp and Archbishop Robert Duncan and his conservative followers.  The Communion Partners’ mission, sources tell CEN was an attempt to inform Archbishop Welby the American scene was more complex – with many seeking to walk the same path as the archbishop.

Fort Worth wins: The Church of England Newspaper, September 6, 2013 p 6. September 12, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas Supreme Court has nullified the Dennis Canon, holding the Episcopal Church’s property rules have no legal effect in the state. It ruled that church property disputes are to be governed by the “neutral principles of law” doctrine rather than ecclesiastical law.

The decision marks the climax of the five year legal battle between the national church and Diocese of Fort Worth – effectively ruling that a parish may quit its diocese and keep its property if it has clear title to its buildings, and that a diocese may withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

On 30 August 2013 the Court handed down its decisions in two closely watched cases — No. 11-0265Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas.

In the Fort Worth case, the Court by a vote of 5 to 4 to overturn a lower court decision that awarded the property of the Diocese of Fort Worth to the national Episcopal Church and its local allies.  It held the trial court erred in deferring to the opinion of the Episcopal Church over the arguments of the diocese.

It remanded the case to the trial court, instructing it to apply a “neutral principles of law” analysis to the issues and determine whether the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth had complied with state law when it withdrew from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The dissenting votes in the Fort Worth case did not dispute the majority’s finding and accept the arguments of the national church, but held the hearing before the Supreme Court was premature and the matter should have been litigated at the court of appeal first.

In the Masterson case, the court voted 7 to 2 to reverse a court of appeal decision which held the Diocese of Northwest Texas was the owner of the property of the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo, Texas.  The appeals court had held that the national church’s property canon – known colloquially as the Dennis Canon — required the court to award the parish property to the diocese under the theory that the state must defer to ecclesiastical law.

The Supreme Court rejected this finding, ruling that “neutral principles of law” must govern the courts, where it must look to property deeds and corporate charters to determine who owns property in Texas. The Masterson ruling nullified in Texas the Dennis Canon – a 1979 rule which states parish property is held in trust for the diocese and national church.

The trial court was directed to review the dispute between the parish and diocese and look to the deeds to determine ownership.

The provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford High, Jr., — the bishop of the loyalist faction — released a statement lamenting the decision. “For now, we must all don the mantle of patience and forbearance,” as their lawyers reviewed the decision.

“I ask for your prayers and urge us all to stay focused on the saving gospel of Jesus Christ in the days ahead,” he said.

The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth rejoiced in the decision. He told the diocese the Supreme Court had ruled the trial court had erred in its decision and “must now reconsider the merits of the case” based on neutral principles.  “While today’s opinions are not final victory, they indicate that a final victory is only a matter of time.”

Bishop Iker thanked the clergy and lay members of the diocese for “your faithfulness and support during this trying period of time. … Patience and prayers are still required, but in the end we will prevail.”

Canon lawyer Alan Halley – who has served as counsel for some of the breakaway dioceses in their battles with the national church – observed: “Texas law will control the issue of who were the trustees of the Fort Worth diocesan corporation on the relevant dates when crucial votes were taken. And that should bode very well for Bishop Iker’s chances on remand.”

“Likewise, the issues of title are to be resolved by examining the various deeds under Texas secular law — and that, too, should work in Bishop Iker’s favor. Title to all of the parish properties is held by the diocesan corporation. Thus if Bishop Iker’s trustees are the proper trustees in office, the property will follow the corporation.”

TEC loses battle for Quincy: Anglican Ink, September 10, 2013 September 12, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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An Illinois circuit court has rejected the national Episcopal Church’s claim that it is a “hierarchical church” under law, handing down a ruling that supports the Diocese of Quincy’s secession from the national church.

Details of the court’s ruling have yet to be analyzed by Anglican Ink, but the Illinois ruling appears to have rejected the legal arguments brought by the national Episcopal Church in its litigation with departing dioceses and congregations — upholding the neutral principles of law doctrine over deference to the denominational polity of the church.

The suit came On 7 Nov 2008 delegates to the diocesan synod meeting at St John’s Church in Quincy, Illinois, approved the second and final reading of a constitutional amendment withdrawing from the Episcopal Church. The vote was 41-14 in the clergy order and 54-12 by the laity. A second resolution affiliating the diocese with the Southern Cone pending the creation of a Third Province in North America was approved 46-4 in the clergy order and 55-8 in the lay order.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Robert Farrar Capon dead at 88: Anglican Ink, September 6. 2013 September 6, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Marriage, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rev. Robert Farrar Capon, noted pastoral theologian and food writer has died. Fr. Capon’s granddaughter Maggie Oliver announced via twitter that the 88 year old priest had died yesterday. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island confirmed to Anglican Ink Fr. Capon had died at 3:00 pm on 5 September 2013.

Author of twenty books, Fr. Capon came to national attention with his first book on marriage and Christian sexual ethics, Bed and Board, published in 1965 while he served as rector of Christ Church in Port Jefferson, Long Island. In 1977 he retired from parish ministry to devote himself to writing. At his death he lived onto Shelter Island, NY with his wife, Valerie.

Among his books were a trilogy on the Parables: The Parables of Grace, The Parables of the Kingdom, and The Parables of Judgment; The Mystery of Christ, Between Noon and Three, and Genesis: The Movie.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 80: August 31, 2013 September 1, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Fort Worth, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Sep 1, 2013

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:
Communion Bishops go to Canterbury 00:00
Texas & South Carolina Victories 07:23
Teaching Americans how to speak English 18:11
It is Just a War 31:50
Trimming the dead branches 39:38
Closing and Bloooopers 44:21

Trademark violation lawsuit against Mark Lawrence dismissed August 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A federal court has dismissed the trademark lawsuit brought by the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg against the Rt Rev. Mark Lawrence, ruling the dispute over who may call himself bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is a matter to be decided by the state court.

On 23 August 2013 Senior U.S. District Court Judge Weston C. Houck held “[t]he sum of all disputes and conflicts arising in the wake of the Diocese’s estrangement from [the national Episcopal Church] are more appropriately before, and will more comprehensively be resolved, in South Carolina state court.”

In a statement released after the decision as handed down, Bishop vonRosenberg  said he was “disappointed at the recent legal developments,” but added “we recognized that our journey involves many, many more steps than only this one.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina clergy deposed: The Church of England Newspaper, August 11, 2013 p 6. August 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has announced it will depose over 100 clergy loyal to the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence and the breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.  On 10 July 2013 the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church published a list of clergy whom it said remained in good standing with the Episcopal Church for having expressed its loyalty to their leadership. Those who had not given their allegiance to the minority faction would be removed from the ordained ministry.

Last month a “Notice of Restriction” was mailed by the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina to the bishops of the national church and the clergy pension fund saying those who had backed Mark Lawrence were “found to have abandoned The Episcopal Church.”

The letter followed a 21 June 2013 vote by the standing committee of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina to depose the clergy. While political considerations will likely give force to the decision in most dioceses, the entity known as the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has no legal meaning under the canon law of the Episcopal Church. Other members of the Anglican Communion, including the Church of England, have not recognized past depositions of clergy by the American Church for abandoning the Episcopal Church, and the move has yet to be tested in the civil courts in conjunction with the church’s pension fund.

The Episcopal Church’s press office, the Episcopal News Service (ENS) reported that Bishop vonRosenberg wrote to the South Carolina clergy in April asking them to declare for him or Bishop Lawrence. A second letter was sent informing the clergy that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina Standing Committee would act on the matter on 21 June and the bishop demanded that he be informed of their decision by 1 June. ENS reported “the majority of those who received the letters have chosen not to reply.”

Washington National Cathedral chapels vandalized: The Church of England Newspaper, August 11, 2013 p 6. August 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church, Washington.
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A Chinese tourist was arrested last week by police in Washington for allegedly vandalizing two chapels in Washington’s National Cathedral. Jia M. Tian (58) was taken into custody after police found her in the cathedral on 29 July 2013 carrying a can of green paint and wearing paint-flecked clothing shortly after green paint was poured over woodwork in the Children’s Chapel and over the organ in the Bethlehem Chapel, the site of the tomb of President Woodrow Wilson.

Police are also questioning Ms. Tian, a Chinese national traveling on an expired U.S. visa, for green paint vandalism near the Smithsonian Castle, the Martin Luther statue at Thomas Circle in Northwest and the Lincoln Memorial.

The Cathedral’s newsletter reported that within twenty four hours, conservators had removed most of the green paint from the gilt wooden reredos in Children’s Chapel. Damage in Bethlehem Chapel centered on the pipe organ façade with paint damaging the keyboard, surrounding wood paneling, and the floor.

It stated “a team of conservators is busy carefully removing the paint while avoiding damage to the delicate wooden surfaces. Although the pipes themselves cleaned easily, the grain of the wood has soaked up the paint. Full removal will be slower and more painstaking than expected, likely resulting in higher restoration costs.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 78, August 9, 2013 August 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:

Silly Story Month 00:00
News from Sydney 08:06
Egypt and Zanzibar 12:06
AS Haley 18:03
Peter Ould 32:42
Closing and Outtakes 40:51

Civil court ruling for Recife schism: The Church of England Newspaper, July 28, 2013, p 6. August 1, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation.
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Bishop Miguel Uchôa

The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) reports that a Pernambuco judge has handed down a ruling in the property dispute in the Diocese of Recife, awarding ownership of the diocese’s assets to the faction aligned to the national church.

On 18 July 2013 the Rt. Rev. Sebastião Armando,  the caretaker bishop of the IEAB diocese released a statement announcing the secession of the diocese and over 90 per cent of its clergy and lay members in 2005 “flagrantly violated Brazilian law as well as Canon law” and the “Doctrine and Discipline” of the IEAB.

In 2005 the then Bishop of Recife, the late Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti was deposed for incivility by his fellow bishops following several years of doctrinal disputes between the evangelical bishop and the liberal majority in the House of Bishops. After he was removed from office, the province then defrocked 32 Recife clergy without trial for backing their bishop.

Bishop Armando, who retired in May but has acted as caretaker of the minority faction until a new bishop is elected in August  argued “that with the decision, the Judiciary as enforcing justice and law, has put an end to this situation which generated unprecedented legal instability in the Anglican Diocese of Recife, resulting in a deleterious effect on the entire Brazilian Anglican province, reflecting poorly on the credibility of the (church) institution and leadership in Brazil and abroad. Fortunately the law does not applaud these sorts of mistakes.”

He went on to say the ruling would not halt the IEAB’s decline, however. “Unfortunately, even with this new step, the unity of the church, so carefully cherished and painstakingly built over these 100+ years during the existence of the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil, once again remains shaken, leaving its faithful troubled and confused, certainly causing in many people of faith a cooling of charity, which is our biggest concern right now.”

The bishop of the majority faction now aligned with the Anglican Church in North America and the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchôa last week told The Church of England Newspaper he had “called an extraordinary synod for this Saturday to have a united voice from the Diocese with the presence of our lawyers.”

While Bishop Armando has pushed for a civil legal settlement of the dispute closed door meetings have been held between the Recife leadership and national and local leaders of the IEAB to seek an amicable resolution to the conflict.

Bishop Uchôa told CEN there had been a number of closed door meetings between the breakaway diocese and the national leadership of the IEAB in recent months seeking an amicable resolution to the dispute. But added he would withhold comment on the court ruling for the present. “At the moment we will let them speak. We come later.”

However he noted the diocese would appeal the ruling.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 77: July 31, 2013 July 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Property Litigation, Roman Catholic Church, South Carolina.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:

THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST 00:00
THE POPE IN AMERICA 04:13
JUSTICE FOR JUSTIN 10:34
RECIFE 15:59
SOUTH CAROLINA 21:59
FORWARD IN FAITH 25:38

Appeals Court returns Recife church property to diocese: Anglican Ink, July 31, 2013 July 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican Ink, Property Litigation.
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The Pernambuco Court of Appeal (Tribunal de Justiça do Estado de Pernambuco) has stayed a lower court decision giving ownership of church properties in the state to the minority faction loyal to the national Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB). The effect of last week’s decision is to return custody of the church properties to the Diocese of Recife and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchôa, while the court conducts a de novo review of the dispute.

On 31 July 2013 Bishop Uchôa told Anglican Ink the diocese was ready to turn over the properties to the IEAB but on “the 21st the state high court judged our appeal and gave us a positive answer. The state high court judges will now review the case. It means that they accepted [the case for study] and said ‘no’ to the first judge who had given the [properties] to the IEAB.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Recife loses court battle over church property to the IEAB: Anglican Ink, July 21, 2013 July 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican Ink, Property Litigation.
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The Bishop of Recife, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchôa has convened an extraordinary meeting of the diocesan synod for 20 July 2013 to discuss a civil court ruling handed down this week that awarded the diocese’s property to a faction aligned with the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB).

“I have called an extraordinary synod for this Saturday to have a united voice from the Diocese with the presence of our lawyers ,” Bishop Uchôa told Anglican Ink.

In 2005 the Bishop of Recife, the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti was deposed for incivility by his fellow bishops following several years of doctrinal disputes between the Evangelical bishop and the liberal majority in the Province. After he was removed from office, the province then defrocked 32 Recife clergy without trial for backing their bishop. Approximately 90 percent of the lay members of the diocese followed Bishop Cavalcanti and are presently under the metropolitan oversight of the primates Anglican Church of North America and the Province of the Southern Cone.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 76, July 16, 2013 July 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, GAFCON, The Episcopal Church.
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This Week’s Anglican Unscripted talks about itself? Well, it is the second anniversary of AU and George and Kevin are still bewildered by the shows success. Your Hosts also talk about the Summer of Egypt and the plight of Christian Brothers and Sisters in the Middle East. There has also been a shakeup at Lambeth Palace (per Kevin and George’s request? ) and this week’s AU talks about PR and bad PR.

Allan Haley discusses the Legal wranglings of the Opera and Peter talks about the problem with Sex, Decisions, and Timing in the Church of England.

Kevin and George close out the program talking about the Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman court decision. And, your hosts are still fundraising for a trip to GAFCON! Tweet: #AU76 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

00:00 AU 2nd Anniversary
10:49 Egypt’s Sizzling Summer
16:37 Lambeth Press Relations
21:08 A Night at the Opera
29:00 Same Sex Sex
41:26 Gafcon in the News
48:29 Trayvon
52:15 George Health Update / Gafcon News

TEC support for gay marriage ruling: The Church of England Newspaper, July 14, 2013 p 6. July 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States has applauded last month’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law withholding national government recognition of same-sex marriages.

On 26 June 2013 the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori stated the decision reflected “the unmistakable movement toward civil marriage equality in the states over the past decade reflects the will of the people in those states to grant equal rights and dignity under the law to all married couples and families, and today’s decision will appropriately allow those families to be recognized under federal law as well.”

By a ruling of 5-4 the court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, declaring that the federal government cannot define marriage for its own laws and policies but must defer to state law definitions. The court’s ruling, however, does not affect Section 2, which provides that no state is required to give effect to another state’s recognition of same-sex marriages. The result will be that same-sex marriages will be valid in some states, but invalid in others.

Bishop Jefferts Schori noted the ruling had been hotly contested. “I am deeply aware that faithful Americans find themselves on all sides of these issues, including those who have not yet clearly discerned an effective or appropriate response.”

However she called upon all Americans to work together. “It is possible to disagree and work together for the good of the larger community.  That is the bedrock of our democratic political system.  It is also the foundation of life in the Body of Christ.  Together we can help to build up the whole community, particularly if we have the courage to listen deeply to those who hold a different view.  The Episcopal Church has an ancient tradition of attempting to hold divergent views together for the sake of deeper truth.  All are beloved of God, and the flourishing of each is what we believe God intended from the beginning of creation.  May we help to build a beloved community in which each and every person is treated with dignity, knowing that each and every one reflects the image of God.”

No decision today from Texas Supreme Court on Fort Worth case: Anglican Ink, June 28, 2013 June 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas Supreme Court did not hand down its expected decision in the Diocese of Fort Worth case today, leaving the breakaway diocese under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker and the loyalist faction led by provisional bishop the Rt. Rev Rayford High on tenterhooks until September.

In a statement released on 28 June 2013, Bishop Iker said, “Today the Texas Supreme Court did not announce a decision in our direct appeal, and since decisions are not issued in July or early August, we do not anticipate a ruling until the end of August at the earliest. We continue to wait patiently upon the Lord, prayerfully trusting in His loving care and protection.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

New York court rejects TEC attempt to grab dissident’s attorneys fees: Anglican Ink, June 26, 2013 June 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, The Episcopal Church.
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A New York court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Diocese of Long Island against the attorneys of a breakaway congregation, holding that even though the diocese prevailed in its lawsuit against the parish, it was not entitled to a refund of fees paid by the parish to their attorneys.

On 24 June 2013 Judge Vito Destefano of the Nassau County division of the New York Supreme Court dismissed the claim of the Diocese of Long Island and St James Church Elmhurst that attorneys Mark Jakubic (the son in law o Archbishop Robert Duncan) and Meyer Silber pay to the diocese over $200,000 they received in legal fees they received while representing the breakaway congregation.

Conservative Anglicans have charged the Episcopal Church with mounting a scorched-earth campaign, seeking to intimidate parishes who were thinking of leaving the church with lawsuits and personal liabilities for breakaway  vestry members  — as well as discouraging attorneys from taking the cases.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

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